Black Spirituality Religion : The Bardo of life - the Bardo of death

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Alexandra, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Alexandra

    Alexandra Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 13, 2008
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    Following my tea experiment, I thought I would expand my little knowledge on different ways to alter the conscious mind and enter into a dream state. This is how I came to discover the term ‘working the bardo’.

    Tibetan monks do not perceive death as the endpoint of life, but believe it is ever present throughout life; each passing moment ‘dies’ as it becomes past experience and a new moment is constantly ‘born’ as the future becomes present.

    I Googled some more and came across this article, which offered a modern twist on the term. If like myself, you have turned procrasinating into an art form, then it is worth reading.


    The Bardo of life - the Bardo of death

    In Tibetan Buddhism, we find the concept of the transitional Bardo state. It's most commonly used to describe the state between lifetimes, the frightening and/or blissful period after death when consciousness leaves the body and is confronted with the subtlest mind, the mind which is always there in our lives, but rarely seen, as it is beyond time and space, beyond sensory perception. What does being completely conscious without any sensory perceptions feel like? I'll leave the question open. This is not a post about Tibetan Buddhism and reincarnation - whether you believe in that stuff or not is not important. What is important, however, is how this understanding translates to life.

    Because bardo in its purest interpretation of the word is not just the inbetween state between lives, it's the inbetween states of everything. Every day of our life is full of bardos, segment after segment, a jigsaw puzzle that - when all the pieces are put together - creates a day, a week, a year, a lifetime. Let's call one of these pieces a bardo. You wake up in the morning - your first bardo of the day. You enter the next bardo when you leave bed. When you eat breakfast - that's another bardo. Brushing your teeth yet another. And so it goes.

    And see, here's my point. There's no difference between these and the bardo between lives, because every bardo is about dying. The "big" bardo is dying from our body, the small ones just mentioned dying from your current activity. Life is just one continuous process of dying. To change what you're doing, you have to go through a mini-death. And here is where it gets interesting. The greater our problem of facing the Big one, the greater our problems of facing all the little ones - also known as life.

    Resisting change, refusing the bardo

    We have a built-in resistance towards change - we feel a lot more comfortable sticking with what we know, our current activity. Let's take a few examples. I'm watching TV, yet I know I need to wash my clothes today. My time is running out - it's running late and if I don't do it, I will have to wear dirty underwear tomorrow. Yet, I keep watching TV. And this unpleasant feeling starts eating at my insides - it starts growing and I find myself torn between entertaining myself and doing what is needed. In the end, the pain of resisting doing my washing may drive my *** to the washing machine. Make no mistake, this pain is real. Another could be sitting at work. I know I'm going to the gym after work, yet somehow I don't want to. But I can't go home either. I really need to work out you know! So instead I find myself working an hour - maybe two - overtime, just so that I can avoid the gym a little longer. Or maybe it is as simple as staying in the shower for half an hour instead of five minutes because you fear the fifteen seconds of ever so slight discomfort when leaving the shower and reaching for the towel.

    In this case, going to the gym is dying to the person that is working. Washing the clothes is dying to the person who wants to be entertained. Leaving the shower is dying to the person who wants to be warm and comfortable. And this continued refusal to die is extremely painful. Even the smallest of deaths can contribute to great pain for the person who has not really mastered life. Because life without knowing how to die is a life of avoidance. It's a life of wanting to do many things, yet not finding a way to do them because routine and habitual patterns get in our way. And then we complain that we have so little time. However, by learning to die in our lives, we will find our day growing by several hours - it's amazing how much time is spent in refusing to enter the next bardo.

    Avoid death, lose life
    The refusal to die is at the root of most if not all of the suffering in the modernized world. Apathy and depression for example are simply a refusal to die. Depressed people can not do anything - everything feels too big, too difficult, like it is too much work. So we sit wallowing in our own misery (that was me for many years). Of course, it completely escapes us at that point that we're attached to our misery, that we are in fact in a state of delusion where working to get out of pain seems a lot more painful than wallowing in it. (Edit: Of course, the more modern form of apathy is doing too much - running so quickly from place to place, filling life with an endless stream of things without consideration for their importance. This is just a diametrically opposite method of doing the same thing - avoiding facing up to the real issues in life. However, pulling that type of laziness into this discussion would make it too complicated.)

    The bottom line is - when we try to avoid death in our life, we lose life in the process. We will find that our days become empty, devoid of meaning and direction. And the extent to which we master life is the extent to which we're able to rationally and equanimously talk about death - a sobering realization in a society where most people will turn their back if someone even brings up the subject. Death is not a big deal. If we embrace it, we embrace life. Embrace change and the world opens up in a sacred display of endless possibilities.